Gratitude

#socialmediafails: part one

Realising that I’ve let social media warp simple things like saying “please” and “thank you”.

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I’m going to take what I think is a fairly safe bet and guess that you, my darling reader, are pretty good with that whole social media thing. Right? And thus, I’m going to assume that you know a fair bit about social media and its continual impact upon communication and so many other related spheres of our 21st century lives. Blah blah blah. For the love of peanuts, tell me something new!

Well, despite having read plenty of articles on the subject and having spent many hours doing utterly arduous first-hand research in the field, there have still been times when I’ve been surprised by just how much social media had affected my relationships.

An example?

Well, I can think back to a time during the age of social media when I went out of my way to make my friend’s day. Good lord, I busted a gut. I spent quite a bit of cash. Hours were spent planning it. There were tears just getting my arse there. And I’m glad to say that I think I made her pretty happy.

And do you know what I wanted (and expected) in return? A social media shout out. Yes, that’s right: I wanted her to thank me publicly by posting a photo, tweeting or writing an update about what I’d done – which is f-ed up on so many levels that it is giving me mild brain damage. How the hell did I get to the stage where I not only wanted, yet also expected social media glorification in return for what I’ve done? How did it get to the stage where this would be my first response if a friend had done the same for me?

One source of influence which pops to mind are the handful of fashion bloggers I follow on Instagram. Perhaps you follow some too? If so, you’ll notice that when they are gifted another gorgeous skincare collection/bunch of flowers/handbag they make sure to post beautiful images of said gift whilst ensuring to tag the gift-giver, thus directing their followers to the company’s activities, as a way of thanking them.

A particular example of someone who does this on a regular basis is Margaret Zhang: a chick who goes to the same uni and me… and, whom at the ripe old age of 20, also happens to be a prominent fashion blogger (the type that gets to attend New York and London fashion weeks). And yes, I do sometimes feel like a bit of an underachiever when I see what she’s just posted. 

An aside in regards to Miss Zhang: in some ways I find it funny that I enjoy her work so much, seeing as my taste is so very different to hers – but I always enjoy seeing how she pairs really interesting pieces and I guess observing someone else’s style develop from a distance has a beauty of its own… In addition to this, I love the way she writes – it’s always a beautiful combination of irreverence, substance, depth and a sort of lyricism.

Ok. Margaret tangent over. We were talking about social media shout outs.

Here are some photos she has posted over the past couple of weeks:

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You’re smart enough to figure out which Insta and description correspond with each other:
A belated Valentine’s Day shout out to her bf. #cupcakes.
A shout out to Tommy Hilfiger for her pre-show flowers and trench coat. #asyoudo
A shout out to her friend who sent her roses.
A shout out to the hotel booking site (and subsequent hotel) used during her stay in London. #LFW

Firstly, how come I don’t get showered with flowers and cupcakes and trench coats?? Hmm?? Answers, people!

Secondly, perhaps seeing posts like these from various sources multiple times a week could help explain my shockingly entitled mindset. See, I’ve allowed this to become my normal…

But the thing is that for Margaret, this is part of her work as a fashion blogger as every time she gives a company or brand a shout out it’s generating them the positive publicity they desire. What’s more, my guess is that some of these brands pay her to post these shout outs as part of their PR strategy and if not, it’s her way of her reimbursing them for their free products.

Except, Alex, you are not a fashion blogger who is being showered in free shoes. Although I obviously wouldn’t complain if that was the case. Duh. No, instead I am me. The thank yous I give and receive are not driving a potential 124,000+ people to my website with a single post.

Fashion blogging aside, most importantly I’ve realised that in this process I lost all perspective. Rather than making my friend’s day, what I was doing for her became an opportunity for me to look good in the eyes of others. If I remember correctly, that’s the opposite of what gift-giving is about – it should be about the other person and not myself and what I can gain from it.

What’s more, now that I’ve thought more about this particular instance, it has become increasingly clear to me that, it was I who should’ve been thanking her, not her thanking me.

So, to my lovely friend, it may be belated, but I hope you had a great day. Thank you for letting me share it with you and, in doing so, for making my day. Thank you for making my soul blossom.

Alex x

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twenty thirteen.

So, I didn’t make it onto the “Let’s reflect on 2013 at the end of 2013” bandwagon during the final weeks of December. My mother thinks I am the epitome of disorganisation (particularly in regards to my bedroom). Although I beg to differ I will concede that I am not known for doing things with great speed

ImageLet’s all take a minute to enjoy one of my favourite quotes from “The Devil Wears Prada”.
Ok. Let’s continue.

Despite missing the traditional window of time to reflect upon the year that has passed, I still have my reflecting-upon-2013 to do. So, let’s get cracking, rascals.

My 2013 was… normal and relatively uneventful. Well, in the sense that nothing cataclysmically, diabolically life-changing happened – my life just had its regular ups and downs with its usual dose of melodrama and randomness inbetween. My friend, on the other hand, had a phenomenal year. Here’s the status update she posted the other week:

2013.
Turned 21.
Fell in love.
Finished my degree.
Moved out of home.
Started my dream job.
Met new fantastic friends.
Been accepted into a new challenging role for next year. 
All in all, life can keep going just the way it is 🙂

Now, I’d like to clarify that I am not the jealous type (or at least I don’t think I am…). On the contrary, I am with all sincerity, ridiculously happy for my friend who had a splendid year. But from reading updates like that my 2013 feels a bit lame in comparison. I don’t feel like I achieved anything particularly great.

I mentioned this to another friend and she was kind enough to remind me that, in general, we social media bunnies only share the awesome moments in life on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and co. Most of us leave the boring, disappointed, sad and frustrated moments out of sight of our 429 Facebook ‘friends’. She also finished by encouraging me to not compare myself to others because, according to her, I had achieved lots of things during my year. “Yeah? Like what?” I thought… But it got me thinking anyway…

She’s a great friend, that one. And she’s got a good brain on her shoulders, too.

The result of her advice was this:

2013.
Turned 21 22.
Fell in love… with Game of Thrones… and Jon Snow.
Finished another year of my seemingly never-ending degree which started with my best semester ever and was then followed by my worst ever.
Moved out of home on. (See: that time when my ex got married.)
I continued doing a Started my dream job I absolutely love (nannying).
Met new fantastic friends. 
Been accepted into a new challenging role for next year. 
I realised that I quite like stringing words together into sentences and so I started this blog.
I branched out and tried new things (Latin dancing and pilates) – both of which I really enjoy and I now do on a regular basis.
I learnt a lot about myself and I think that I grew a lot as a person.
I got my first role without using any connections, but through a traditional interview process. (Admittedly, it was not a paid position (intern!), but I was still chuffed, ok?)

It may not have been a perfect or spectacular year, but all in all, life can keep going just the way it is. 

Alex x